Walleye Poachers Targeting Lake Erie’s Red Hot Fishing
As Lake Erie’s world-renowned walleye fishing continues to grow thanks to recent successful hatchings, so too has the problem of walleye poaching, especially from out-of-state visitors to Ottawa County.
Since fishing season began a few months ago, Ottawa County has had at least five “double tripping” investigations that resulted in about 20 individual citations each time, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie unit.
“It’s been a very busy spring for us,” said Brian Bury, an investigator with the Lake Erie unit. “But we’ve been working hard to try to prevent this from happening.”
Bury explained that “double tripping” is when anglers reach their bag limits on an initial fishing trip out on the lake, return to empty their coolers, then go back out for another trip in the same day and exceed their daily limit, which is strictly regulated by Ohio law.
Bury said the activity makes it harder for wildlife officers to catch and is done intentionally by poachers to evade being caught.
“We’re working 14- and 16-hour days to make these cases,” Bury said. “They go out first thing in the morning, come back at noon, and then go back out for their second trip at four or five o’clock this time of year. So we have to sit there literally all day and all night.”
Wildlife officers generally receive tips from other concerned sportsmen about people going out multiple times in a single day and, when the fishing is good, multiple trips usually means they are exceeding their limit, he said.
Late last month 20 people from Wisconsin were cited on South Bass Island for exceeding the daily limit of walleye while making multiple trips.
According to a report by WFDL radio in Wisconsin, six of those cited were former or current correctional officials in the state — Steve Schueler, Mike Dittman, Paul Neevel, Craig Arndt, Robert Hable and Mike Thurmer.
Each was sentenced in Ottawa County Municipal Court this week to a suspended jail term of 10 days on the condition of no similar offense within a year and a $150 fine, according to court records.
Each also had his Ohio fishing license suspended for a year and was ordered to pay $150-to-$300 in restitution to ODNR.
Bury said sometimes when people come in from out of town and are staying and fishing for multiple days, they may feel an entitlement to six walleye per day.
But often weather conditions and other factors keep anglers from catching their limit every day. When that is the case, they may try to make up for a slower day by double tripping on a good day.
“We’re seeing guys not get to fish for a day or maybe the fish don’t bite a day, then they go out the next day and take a double limit, trying to make sure they get six fish for every day that they’re here,” Bury said.
He stressed that is against the law in Ohio.
Ottawa County is known as the Walleye Capital of the World and Ohio Division of Wildlife law officers aim to keep it that way by enforcing state laws on daily walleye bag limits that are designed to ensure a healthy future for Lake Erie’s fish populations.
“We had a very good hatch of fish two out of the last three years, so the fishing is very good right now,” Bury said. “We’re trying to protect those fish because they are going to need to carry us into the upcoming years and quite some time. We’re trying to protect the resource.”
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June 9, 2017 at 02:51PM